The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.


Bee suitI'm ashamed to admit that I've been bee-shy ever since the rout.  Sure, I got right back on the horse, but I felt like I flubbed the second honey harvest (though not as badly as the first.)  I was scared and grabbed two full supers, one of which had a bit of drone brood at the bottom edge.  In retrospect, I think it was stealing the drone brood that made the hive so angry.

No matter what the cause, I riled up the hive so much during honey harvest two that our bees have been mad at me ever since.  As I weed the garden, they chase me away from the poppies.  As I hang up the clothes, they buzz me, then get stuck in my hair, and I retreat to the house to frantically flick the worker free.  (It's a bit daunting to have a bee buzzing angrily an inch from your ear, even when you know that she's just trying to tease herself loose.)

Jars of honeyBeing bee-shy is a vicious cycle.  I'm leery of the bees, so I don't act calmly around them, and that makes them madder, which makes me act stranger.

Luckily, I have a thoughtful husband who knows the right times to overcome my resistance to spending money.  "That settles it," Mark said firmly.  "We're getting you a real bee jacket." 

Friday morning, I donned my new suit and the jitters faded away.  (Cleaning out the smoker so that it worked again was also helpful.)  When I opened up the first hive, bees rose up around me, but I felt safe in my fancy jacket and the bees soon shrugged and got back to work.

This time, I went slowly, picking through each super on all three hives to remove just the fully capped honey.  Then I loaded fourteen frames into the golf cart for the short ride to the edge of the forest garden.  (Last time, I carried heavy supers in my arms from the apiary, and the next day my back told me not to do that again.)

I had gently brushed off the frames of honey near each hive, but there were still plenty of bees clinging to their winter stores.  So I braked a good distance from the trailer and brushed the frames again, sending the last few workers up into the air somewhere other than around our front door.

Four hours later, I had extracted ten quarts of honey, returned the supers to the hives, and not been stung or scared a single time.  It sure tastes sweet to conquer my fear.

Our homemade chicken waterer is always poop-free.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I've been reading your journal for a while, so I just wanted to pop in and say hello. I am starting to research our move off the grid -- we have a long way to go. Thanks for posting this great journal!
Comment by Lisa G Sat Jun 19 10:33:55 2010
We're glad to meet you! We'll look forward to hearing about your adventures leaving the grid.
Comment by anna Sat Jun 19 13:11:15 2010

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